Are The Culinary Arts More Science or Art?
As the name suggests, there is a very strong artistic component to the culinary arts. Requiring the intense training of an artist as well as the flair of someone who knows how to present and style food for maximum effect, the culinary arts are part of a field you can spend anywhere from weeks to years training for.
However, anyone who has ever worked in a bakery or written a recipe will tell you that there is a very strong scientific component to food preparation, as well.
Whether it’s understanding the chemistry behind leavening agents, using caramelization to add robust flavors and depth to a dish, or tapping into the properties of liquid nitrogen for a touch of molecular gastronomy, many top chefs today use science as a foundation for all that they do in the kitchen.
When you attend a top culinary school, you’re most likely going to get a little bit of both worlds: the arts and the sciences. And as you develop your skills and find the niche that will carry you through your profession, you will be able to incorporate as much of either quality as you want.
The Arts and Culinary Training
For a strong artistic focus within the culinary field, you may be able to find work in:
You can also become an Executive Chef or other decision-maker in the kitchen, where the food you put out is as much an a visual experience as it is an taste-based one.
The Sciences and Culinary Training
If you’re interested in a strong scientific component, you may want to consider fields in:
Baking and Pastry Arts
Local Resource Production
Food Safety and Sanitation
Commercial Food Production
Depending on your personal background, you can also incorporate the sciences into your own kitchen or restaurant in small steps (such as growing your own produce or using a few molecular gastronomy techniques).
One of the best things about the culinary field is that you can develop your own path and focus. Whether you love the creative aspect of cooking or the science behind it, there are possibilities in a culinary career for everyone.
Read, Read and Read Some MoreOne of the best suggestions I have for anyone thinking of going to culinary school or just getting into the restaurant industry is to read everything you can get your hands on. Learn from professional chefs who have worked in the industry and those who have taught in culinary schools.
There are many great books available to get you started in your culinary education and I suggest you read as much as possible before making that big decision to make sure this is the right move for you. Below is just a sample of books you might be interested in checking out.
For a much more comprehensive list of books for aspiring culinary, baking and restaurant management students, I suggest checking out my post on books for future culinary students and chefs.